Sail and bike Tulip Tour (Mare)
Enjoy Holland in the springtime in an unforgettable way, exploring enchanting Dutch landscapes by wheels and water during our Tulip Sail & Bike tour. Smell the tulips when cycling through the countryside, feel freedom in the breeze while sailing across the Wadden Sea and Lake IJsselmeer, and enjoy comfort and camaraderie on the beautiful sailing ship the Mare fan Fryslân.
Best tulip areas of the Netherlands
During this fascinating Sail & Bike trip, you will discover the best tulip areas that the Netherlands has to offer. Not only will you visit the famous Keukenhof gardens, known for its hundreds of thousands of blooming tulips, hyacinths, daffodils, and other bulb flowers. You will also bike through less famous, but equally gorgeous areas where tulips bloom in the spring months. A visit to the Hortus Bulborum is also on the program, giving you the chance to ramble through this unique garden museum, dedicated to the preservation of rare and historic bulbs.
Bike, sail, windmills, tulips
But it is not only about tulips; during your week-long Sail & Bike tour, you will spend plenty of time in the historical cities of Haarlem and Alkmaar — gems hidden from mass tourism. You will discover typical Dutch cultural highlights and cycle through pleasant, flat polders, the result of centuries of extensive land reclamation from the North Sea and the former Southern Sea (now IJsselmeer). The region you will cycle through has undergone such extensive impoldering, that you will soon realize the truth behind the proverb, “God created the earth, but the Dutch made Holland”.
Highlights of this tulip tour
Given the Dutch love for cycling, the region is crisscrossed with many quiet cycle tracks that stretch from one end of the region to the other. You will be amazed by the beauty and expanse of the North Sea beaches, the extremely bicycle-friendly island of Texel, the splendid flat landscapes, small dreamlike farm villages, and romantic, picturesque harbor towns. And all of this completed with the occasional fields full of beautiful flowers.
Lend a hand or relax on board
During the second part of the tour, you will sail across the large lake IJsselmeer to Enkhuizen and Hoorn. If you like, you may — instructed by the experienced crew — lend a hand during navigating and hoisting the sails. Sailing experience is not necessary. Of course you are also very welcome to just relax and enjoy the sailing and scenery.
Day 1 (Sa): Amsterdam – Spaarndam | Spaarndam – Haarlem (6 km/3 mi. or 14 km/8 mi.)
You are welcome to check in on the Mare fan Fryslân between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m., where your crew will welcome you with coffee and tea. At 2.30 p.m., the ship leaves the harbor. While the ship sails to Haarlem, your tour leader will stoke your anticipation by telling you about the tour, the cycling and safety procedures. From Spaarndam, you will have the option to take a little test ride. After enjoying a delicious dinner on board, the tour leader will take you on a guided town walk through the beautiful city center of Haarlem, which is known to some as “Little Amsterdam”.
Day 2 (Sun): Haarlem – Keukenhof – Haarlem (49 km/30 mi.)
Today’s trip leads you through the oldest tulip fields of Holland, and includes a visit to the Keukenhof Gardens. This is the most beautiful bulb park in the world — Keukenhof is the place where spring springs. It features an overwhelming blaze of colors: seven million flowering tulips in a magnificent 80-acre setting of traditional and modern gardening architecture. You also can admire various hyacinths, daffodils, and many other vibrant flowers. In the afternoon, you cycle back to Haarlem to spend a restful night here in your floating hotel.
Day 3 (Mon): Haarlem – Zaanse Schans | Zaanse Schans – Alkmaar (40 km/24 mi.)
In the morning, the ship will take you to the Zaanse Schans, a unique hamlet where people live and work alongside original houses and windmills built next to the river Zaan. This tiny village is dominated by its operating windmills — the oldest of which was built in 1673 — and these were used for grinding mustard seeds, spices, and paint components; extracting plant oil; and for sawing wood into planks. As you walk through the village, you will see a clock museum, an old-fashioned grocery store, a house with period furniture, a clog maker, and a cheese farm.
After this visit, your cycling tour continues to Limmen and Egmond-Binnen, and here, again you have the chance to bike through colorful tulip fields. Nearby, you will visit the Hortus Bulborum, a unique garden museum dedicated to the preservation of rare and historic bulbs. More than 4,000 tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, and other special flowers are planted here. Your cycling tour continues to Egmond at the North Sea, once more passing through the tulip fields. The Mare fan Fryslân will be waiting for you near the historical city center of Alkmaar. This town is well known as a Dutch cheese city. As you wander through the streets, you’ll be amazed by the beauty of Alkmaar’s old town, with its well-preserved 17th-century buildings and narrow, winding canals.
Day 4 (Tue): Alkmaar – Den Helder (33 km/21 mi. or 50 km/31 mi.) | Den Helder – Oudeschild
Today you can take a bike tour north of Alkmaar where you will find the most beautiful tulip fields on your way to the North Sea. The sandy beach here is one of the most wonderful to walk along in the entire Netherlands, the perfect spot for feeling the wind in your hair or simply enjoying the view. Close by — and certainly worth a visit — is the artist’s village of Bergen. Then you will bike on through the North-Holland Dune reserve to Den Helder: this piece of land wedged between the North Sea and the IJsselmeer boasts the world’s single biggest flowering bulb field. In one word: spectacular! Just before dinner, the Mare will sail to the island of Texel, the largest of the Dutch Wadden Isles.
Day 5 (Wed): Wadden island of Texel: round trip from/to Oudeschild (several options from 15 km/9 mi. to 65 km/41 mi.) | Texel – Medemblik
Today you can choose to cycle a shorter route or to take a longer tour around the island. You will cycle through delightful natural parks, and even on Texel you will bike through fields of blooming flowers! Our suggestion is to cycle the beautiful Thijsse-route (approx. 40 km/25 mi.), the signposts of which lead you through picturesque villages and landscapes, and even to the Ecomare seal sanctuary. At the end of your cycling tour, you can enjoy a locally-brewed, well-deserved beer during a visit to the small brewery near Oudeschild. During dinner, de Mare fan Fryslân will return to the mainland and sail to Medemblik.
Day 6 (Thu): Medemblik – Enkhuizen | Enkhuizen – Hoorn (28 km/20 mi.)
In the morning, the Mare fan Fryslân will set sail to Enkhuizen. You may lend a hand during navigation and hoisting the sails. Previous sailing experience is not at all necessary. Of course, you are also very welcome to just relax and enjoy the sailing and scenery as you progress along the IJsselmeer. Around lunchtime, the Mare fan Fryslân will make a stop in Enkhuizen, an old city with many centuries of maritime tradition. You can spend some time exploring here before you start biking onwards in the afternoon — “the herring city” boasts a beautiful old harbor and an old town full of history. Your afternoon ride goes from Enkhuizen to Hoorn, passing through West-Friesland, which is another area where you can see a lot of riotously-blooming tulip fields. Today’s bike tour ends in the former Dutch East India Company town of Hoorn, which was, in the 17thcentury, one of the world’s foremost harbors.
Day 7 (Fri): Hoorn – Volendam (28 km/20 mi.) | Volendam – Amsterdam
On this last cycling day, a tasty breakfast will be followed by a bike tour to Volendam, a small and picturesque fishing harbor on the shores of Lake IJsselmeer. Along the way, you will pass Edam, which is known for its famous Edam cheese, covered in red or yellow wax. While this adorable village is now renowned for cheese, it was once an industrious shipyard and port. That’s why, in the 17th century, the town’s specialty became one of the most popular cheeses in the world. Sailors took wheels of Edam on their voyages – the cheese doesn’t spoil easily and could be traded for spices and other riches of the East. In Volendam, the Mare fan Fryslân will be waiting for you in the afternoon, giving you one last sailing trip to enjoy on your way back to Amsterdam.
Day 8 (Sat): Amsterdam
End of your tour: after breakfast, you can disembark until 9.30 a.m.
Included in this tour :
- 8 days / 7 nights
- 7 x breakfast
- Packed lunches
- 7 x 3-course dinner
- Coffee and tea on board till 4 p.m.
- Welcome drink
- Use of bed linen and towels
- Daily cleaning of the cabin
- Daily briefings
- Fully guided cycling tours
- Some short walking tours
- Maps and notes for cycling tours (1 set per cabin)
- GPS tracks
- Use of a waterproof pannier bag
Excluded in this tour :
- Coffee and tea on board after 4 p.m.
- Bicycle rental or e-bike rental
- Helmet rental
- Personal insurances
- Gratuities (at your discretion)
- Entrance fees and excursions
- Fees for ferries
- Transfers to/from the docking place
- Parking fees
Additional options & information :
Rental bicycle : €75 per week (optional) Rental E-Bike : €175 per week (only a limited number of electrical bikes available: pref. reservation by booking)
Helmets : A helmet can be rented for € 10 per week, only on prior reservation and payment.
Parking in Amsterdam (valet parking): prices and pre-booking on request.
Parts that are printed in italics parts will be covered by the ship.
All distances are “approximate distances” of recommended bike tours. The tour details are barring changes, a.o. as a result of nautical, technical or meteorological reasons.
- The daily cycling tours will be accompanied by a knowledgeable and multilingual tour leader.
- During the days when 2 bicycle options are possible, the tour leader will make a choice for the longer or the shorter option together with the group.
- Not all mentioned highlights will be visited during the short bike option.
- You can also choose to ride individually with the help of a map and route notes (available on board). GPS tracks will be sent to you 4 weeks before the start date of the tour.
- In case you prefer a day of rest, you can skip the bike tour and relax on board while cruising to the next town.
ABOUT THE SAIL & BIKE TOUR: While a little bit of adventure is part of every Sail & Bike tour, departure and arrival days as well as the location – Amsterdam – are a 100% fixed. As for the rest, the planned daily sailing routes partially depend on the strength and direction of the winds. The skipper decides day by day on the best route and discusses the options with his guests. The crew does whatever it can to run the program according to plan and to offer you a fascinating, varied and active week, in which nature and culture play a major part. It is however possible that departure times and the time spent on the water – and even the order of the program itself – have to be adjusted. So, enjoy the ride and let yourself be led by the elements!
Whenever possible, various passages will be undertaken fully rigged. Anyone who likes to help the crew sail and steer the boat is welcome to do so. Of course this is absolutely up to you. Sailing experience is not necessary.